WASHINGTON –- Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) may have been joking last week when he suggested Newark Mayor Cory Booker deserved "a spanking" for talking openly about running for his Senate seat. But on Tuesday, the 89-year-old senator took a more serious tone when asked about his plans for 2014, giving no indication that he plans to retire.
"It's just exceptionally aggressive," Lautenberg said of Booker's plan to run for his Senate seat, during a chat with a handful of Capitol Hill reporters.
"He can do anything he wants. I just want to take care of Newark, where I haven't left," he continued, taking a shot at Booker for over his influence in New Jersey. "You know, I go to Newark every day. I don't often run into him going out of Newark."
Asked by CNN's Dana Bash if he's more likely to stay in the Senate because of Booker's challenge, Lautenberg jokingly responded, with gritted teeth, "Why do you say that?"
He continued, "There are a lot of people interested in serving in the United States Senate. I don't blame them."
Lautenber has yet to definitively say whether he'll run in 2014, but Booker's posturing clearly isn't sitting well with him. In a Politico report earlier this month, an anonymous Lautenberg adviser torched Booker, a fellow Democrat, for announcing his Senate run despite the fact that Lautenberg hasn't announced his own plans yet.
Whether it's against Booker or someone else, the fifth-term senator said Tuesday that he's ready to fight for his seat: "My charge is 'Defense! Defense!'"